Raising the BARR – Week ending 6 October 2017

How and Why Do We Have This Power Crisis?

I have been asked many times in recent weeks about the option of keeping Liddell Power Station open to sure up electricity supply.  My first thought and response is always the same: how did we end up here?  And in today’s column I thought that I would try to explain that, in as simple terms as possible, without asking anyone to take a position for, or against, coal or renewables.

If we cast our mind back to the period of 2007-2011 in State politics and 2007-2013 in Federal politics, there was a conscience decision to move toward renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.  Now regardless of your thoughts on that position and that decision, the fact is that there was a set and deliberate direction taken.  Money was set aside, incentives were offered and a wider community education campaign was afoot.  In particular, across NSW people dove into solar panels.

In 2011 at the State level, and in 2013 at the Federal level, the change of Government led to a change of position.  Renewables were no longer considered worthy of investment.  Again, regardless of your thoughts on that decision, that was the decision made.  But this is also an important turning point in how we get to the crisis situation of today.

In changing our States electricity direction in 2011 at the State level and 2013 at the Federal level, it was abundantly clear to all what we would NOT be doing, and that was renewables.  OK.  But what wasn’t explained is what we WOULD be doing instead.  By and large this new direction never has been explained and I don’t believe a decision ever made.  You see a decision would have required money, education, planning and progress.  Regardless of your thoughts on coal or renewables or politics, I am confident that nobody in our community would be able to tell me what new direction the Government launched into with regard to electricity.

I sometimes hear the current State and Federal Governments talking coal, gas or even nuclear power, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what the supposed new direction is.  I do know that there has been zero, zip, zilch, State Government investment in coal fired power; I know that there has been no investment in gas fired power; and I know that talk of nuclear power only seems to be rolled out on a slow news day.

In summary there has been a decision to step away from renewables, but no decision to step into anything else.  Hence, we are facing a power shortage, not caused by climate change or the burning of fossil fuels.  On this front we don’t have to take sides of pro-environment or anti-environment, in fact we can all unite.  If the lights go out this summer it will be a result of a Government non-decision, the worst type of decision of them all!

On a personal note, I do offer a dark and satisfied giggle when I hear the Liberal Government saying that the free market, the privatised electricity market, has failed the people.  Oh dear!

HSC Best Wishes

As you read this column our local Year 12 students will be about to sit for their Higher School Certificate (HSC).  While I would offer that students and their families should try not to be too stressed, I know that you will be.  By and large the HSC offers reward for the work and effort that you have made over recent years.  There are rarely surprises.  If you have been hard at it, chipping away, making a genuine effort, then it is highly likely that you will reap the rewards.  If you haven’t been hard at it, then it is highly unlikely that you will pull off a miracle on the day.  That last bit might sound a bit harsh, but generally, in life, we have to own our efforts.  Nevertheless, the HSC does not make or break our potential for the future.  Life is full of opportunities.  We need to be courageous, we need to shoot for the stars and we need to listen and learn at every opportunity.  I wish you all the best for the HSC, but more importantly I wish you prosperity and good health for life beyond the HSC.